MEDINA — The cold Thanksgiving morning air could not keep the 50 players participating in the annual Meadows Turkey Bowl from taking the frost-covered Bill Dunn Field at Reagan Park on Thursday morning.
Game founder Mike Meadows said each player must raise $2,000 to participate in the game, which benefits both the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and The Grace Foundation.
“It is humbling, I couldn’t do it without people, we call it playing the game within the game, just going out and raising money,” game founder Mike Meadows said Thursday. “It is truly unbelievable, it is a blessing from God.”
The game, which primarily honors local individuals who are battling cancer or have died of the disease, raised $318,000 this year — besting last year’s record number of $263,000. Players braved the cold temperatures, which remained in the 20s throughout the morning, as spectators gathered around fire pits to keep warm.
Joe Schmidt, 24, of Hinckley said he was participating in the Meadows Turkey Bowl for the first time, but it would not be his last.
“I knew it was a really good cause, I work for Mike Meadows, his family founded it,” Schmidt said. “I love the cause, I have family who have had cancer and it was something that really spoke to me.”
Schmidt said he reached out family and friends about the event in order to raise the $2,000 necessary to compete on one of the event’s six teams.
“A lot of it was just reaching out to family and friends, telling the story and telling them more about who we are playing for and just relaying that it is for the common good,” Schmidt said.
Donning orange jerseys, Collin’s Crew represented 9-year-old cancer patient Collin Nemet of Brunswick during the game. A cowbell rang out from the supportive crowd as the team scored touchdowns on their way to win the day’s championship game against Team Haney. The final score of the game — the last of three rounds of competition for the teams — was 54-35..
“Collin, he is a 9-year-old little boy, he has 28 cousins, all of them are very supportive of him through all of his treatments and things like that,” Collin’s father, Mike Nemet, said. “Everybody has been around so when they heard they could come out today, get together a little early for Thanksgiving, everybody rushed out to be with him.”
Collin received a round of applause and greetings from the players as he made his way to the football field.
Ben Cavey of Montville Township said 2018 makes the fourth of fifth year participating in the game.
“This is a great cause, why wouldn’t you want to wake up on Thanksgiving and help people out that need it,” Cavey said.
This was the first year annual Meadows Turkey Bowl was held at Reagan Park after outgrowing Meadows’ backyard
The teams and individuals recognized during the 2018 event include:
- Team Brittany Parker: Brittany Parker, of Wadsworth, is a single mom who was diagnosed with stage 3 invasive breast cancer on July 9. Currently, she is finishing 16 weeks of chemotherapy and will need a double mastectomy and several reconstructive procedures. Chad Toocheck played on her behalf on the team captained by Dan Bowman.
- Team Stillman: Jack Stillman, 23, of Rocky River, died in January after a bout of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma that followed a stellar career in the Army. Team captain Frank Warren played on his behalf.
- Collin’s Crew: Collin Nemet, a 9-year-old boy from Brunswick, was an active kid that enrolled in the American Ninja Warrior School in Brunswick. Soon thereafter, he was in Cleveland Clinic after being diagnosed with brain cancer. Parents Mike and Kim have five children and Collin continues his battle. Darren Cereshko played for Collin on the team captained by Austin Cordova.
- Team Paul Desciscio: Paul Desciscio, of Medina, is suffering from colon cancer. Doctors have already removed a tumor the size of a rugby football because of the disease. It also forced surgeons to remove his colon, bladder and prostate, which changed his life forever. The cancer later spread to his liver and he continues to fight. Dan Icenhour is playing on Desciscio’s behalf on the team captained by Jon Levoy.
- Team Ooh La La: Captain Kyle Smith’s team palyed for a lady who wishes to remain anonymous. She was first diagnosed with breast cancer about five years ago. The cancer has since come back. She has lost her brother and mother to cancer. Smith is playing on her behalf.
- Team Haney: John Haney, a former football player at Baldwin Wallace University, died unexpectedly last year after suffering from mental health issues. Ian Harmon is raising 100 percent of his proceeds for a foundation set up in Haney’s name on the team captained by Matt Meadow. Harmon, from Fairview Park, was Haney’s best friend.
For information about the Meadows Turkey Bowl, visit http://meadowsturkeybowl.com/donatenow.html.
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